A Substitute for Tears…

Two fellows that have had profound effects on the music in my life have each written songs about the gas drilling and want to preserve the beauty and purity of places they have come to know and love in Pennsylvania.

Check out Van Wagner’s tune here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trxrh_FmPeI&feature=share

And Tom Oswald’s tune can be found here: http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/7585531


Susquehanna River Sentinel

I just wanted to pass along this link to another blogger’s site who is offering some great information. His recent post addresses water withdrawls and there is a note about Pine Creek (the one that runs through Tioga County, PA) and the water that is being taken from that source.


PA DEP Fines Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC $28,960 for Illegal Surfactant Discharge


Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau

Room 308, Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg PA., 17120




Daniel T. Spadoni, Department of Environmental Protection North-central Regional Office


DEP Fines Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC $28,960 for Illegal Surfactant Discharge to Pine Creek in Lycoming County

Incident Occurred at a Marcellus Natural Gas Well Pad in Cummings Township

WILLIAMSPORT — The Department of Environmental Protection today announced that it has fined Pennsylvania General Energy Co. LLC (PGE) of Warren $28,960 for the illegal discharge of Airfoam HD, a surfactant, into Pine Creek in Lycoming County last March.

Surfactants are used by natural gas drillers to create a foam that will lift water and drill cuttings to the surface. Airfoam HD is approved by DEP for use by the industry.

“PGE responded immediately to this incident and fully cooperated with the department,” said DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber.

During the weekend of March 13 and 14, 2010, there was significant rainfall and snow melt that caused residual Airfoam in a Marcellus well bore to migrate to a spring on the hillside creating a white, foamy substance. The spring was not used as a source of drinking water.

A DEP investigation on March 15 verified that the material was flowing from the spring, down the hillside, under Pa. Route 44 via a storm drain, and into Pine Creek. At the time, the spring was flowing at an estimated 180 gallons per minute.

PGE began diverting foam from the storm drain in the road berm and later placed an absorbent boom across the spring run on the hillside, which prevented further discharges to Pine Creek.

No constituents of Airfoam HD were detected in Pine Creek.

The discharge was a violation of the Clean Streams Law, Solid Waste Management Act, and DEP’s oil and gas regulations.

The fine was deposited into the fund that supports DEP’s oil and gas permitting and enforcement programs.

For more information, call 570-327-3659 or visit http://www.depweb.state.pa.us.

Become a Waterdog!

Become a Pine Creek Waterdog!! It’s simple and could make a huge difference in protecting our environment and assisting the DEP in enforcing compliance with our regulations. 
The Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group is holding a training and registration for Waterdogs on February 8, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm at the Tokishi Training Center, NYPUM Drive, Wellsboro Pa. 
There is a $10 registration fee to cover cost of materials. 
To register, call 
Erica Tomlinson
Watershed Specialist
Tioga County Conservation District724-1801×118 
Limited to 35 Waterdog trainees. 
You will be provided with a bumper sticker, registration card and logbook for recording your observations. This training will show you how to document and record important observation information and who to call in the event of environmental harm or public safety issues.  So join us for an interesting evening program on how a citizen can participate in the protection of our environment and place your “Pine Creek Waterdog” bumper sticker on your vehicle and go forth!
General info about Marcellus Shale in PA
The Marcellus Shale natural gas play is one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the United States. The northern tier of Pennsylvania, which contain some of the deepest stratum of Marcellus shales in the Eastern United States, has recently become the focus of intense energy development. An increased awareness of the importance of this “discovery” has brought many companies to seek El Dorado in the region.

Currently there are drilling rigs scattered across the region, with rigs located in Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming and Susquehanna Counties. Marcellus Shale rigs typically explore as deep as 8,000 feet and drill horizontal legs as far outward as 4000 feet from the vertical well. In order to release the gas from the tight shale formation a process called hydrofracturing is used. Hydrofracturing (called fracing for short) fractures the shale through the use of pressurized water. Special sands, called propents, and chemical are injected along with the water to form a porous route for the gas to flow through.

We are fortunate that our Department of Environmental Protection has a very rigorous permitting and inspection process that the companies must follow in order to extract the gas. We do however understand that those personnel cannot maintain a watch on the activity of all the people, rigs and trucks contracted and subcontracted to produce the gas. Many contractors and companies brought in from outside the state are not yet familiar with our regulations regarding water usage, erosion and sedimentation, and waste disposal. The region is too large and the resources of the regulators too limited to effectively keep track of the exponential growth in activity taking place.

DEP: Gas industry treatment behind discharge on hillside

This article came to me this morning from the RDA. About an hour after receiving it I also received some info form them on what “airfoam HD” is and what is in it. See after the article.
By PATRICK DONLIN – pdonlin@sungazette.com
POSTED: March 17, 2010

WATERVILLE – A substance used in the natural gas drilling process is discoloring and distorting the texture of spring water running off a Cummings Township sidehill. Cheryl Sinclair, a geologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, was collecting suspicious water samples mid-day Tuesday along Route 44, one mile south of Waterville. The mysterious substance was seen flowing down the slope, under the road and into Pine Creek, said Daniel T. Spadoni, spokesman for DEP’s northcentral region office. Officials from another state agency alerted DEP…

Terming it a surfactant, Spadoni said a substance known as Airfoam HD was causing the water run-off to be unnatural in appearance…. Surfactant used to treat Pennsylvania General Energy wells affected the water run-off, which Spadoni said had nothing to do with hydrofracturing….They were using the whitening substance as a lubricant that lowers the surface tension between air and water, according to Spadoni…

“They’re attempting to determine what caused this problem and what actions they can take to stop it,” Spadoni said of energy company representatives, with whom DEP members have been communicating… The only precaution Spadoni recommended to residents is to avoid the suspicious spring water run-off in the area….

“I don’t think you would want to drink this discharge,” he said.

The substance leaking down the hill isn’t listed as dangerous on a Material Safety Data Sheet, according to Spadoni.

“We don’t know for sure what its chemical composition is,” Spadoni said.

To read the full article and view all photos, click here:


Some might ask:
(1) if we don’t know the chemical composition, how can we know if it is or is not on the Material Safety Data Sheet and is or is not dangerous?
(2) how to get the word out to illiterate wildlife and aquatic organisms not to drink from this stream.

From Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is a foaming agent used for natural gas production and is proven to cause cancer in animals. 2-BE is a primary component of AirFoam HD, a product that has been found on drilling pads in Pennsylvania — the MSDS sheets for Air Foam HD state that is dissolves in water and that chronic exposure causes cancer.   Testing for 2-BE costs over $100 per test, and the cost burden is on the landholder — the DEP has failed to test for drilling or fracking chemicals in their standard tests which are only performed when landowners report problems in their water supply, not before the problems occur.  Residents who will soon have natural gas production occuring in their region or upstream from their groundwater supply must hire an independent water testing company to do a “baseline test” to show the lack of contaminants prior to the drilling.  Without a baseline test, it is more difficult to convict a drilling operator for water contamination – the drilling operator can claim that there is no proof that the contaminant was not in the groundwater supply prior to the drilling.


Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
MSDSs are designed to inform those who handle, ship, and use the products about their physical and chemical
characteristics, and their direct and/or immediate health effects, in order to prevent injury while working with
the products.  The sheets are also designed to inform emergency response crews in case of accidents or spills.
The total reported composition of a product on an MSDS can be less than 0.1% up to 100%. MSDSs are not
submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for review. The product
manufacturers determine what is revealed on their MSDSs.
The health information on MSDSs most often warns of possible harm to the skin and eyes, gastrointestinal and
respiratory tracts, followed by the nervous system and brain. Many MSDSs do not address the outcome of long
term, intermittent or chronic exposures, or adverse health effects that may not be expressed until years after the

RDA comment

2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is one of the nastier things the drilling industry uses, It is soluble in water, vaporizes in air, and is taken up through the skin. It can cause a very specific adrenal tumor linked to its exposure. According to Theo Colborn at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, it is implicated in a wide variety of health effects in most systems of the body and should be handled with great care.  Studies have indicated there is no known level of dilution where 2-BE doesn’t have effect on organisms. You can download the spread sheet at the link below.


Nothing Is Sacred…

Below is another article from the Sun Gazette. The author is Patrick Donlin and the topic is heated. I spend a lot of time trying to be open minded and understanding of other points of view, even if they are not my own, but sometimes I have a hard time keeping my emotions out of my logic and my over all feelings towards any gas exploration that takes place in or near the PA Grand Canyon or Pine Creek should just be completely off limits.

Is nothing worth saving anymore? It seems that there is a price to be put on everything around us. Every tree, every drop of fresh water, every field, mountain view, nesting site and migratory path can be bought with dollars. Is this our end goal? To be so greedy for money that we sell out in every way possible until we have nothing left? I feel that there are already so many people who have signed leases for their private property. How many more gas wells do we need? Must there be one every 40 acres? There are folks who are willing to give up their private land for this consumption. Why must these gas companies push their way into every valley, every ridge, every lush and healthy hollow of forest that we have left? And if it was not enough to say “Hey. This area is beautiful and is part of the earth’s ability to create and recycle clean water and clean air and healthy soils so fauna can grow”, then at least look at the other side of that thought. The PA Grand Canyon Rail Trail has made headlines in large papers. It is talked about and recommended by many travel magazines and articles. the PA state forest and Pine Creek are some of the best places to fish, hike, bike camp and hunt in the Mid Atlantic. Apparently all the money that comes from the tourism to this area, the money that keeps the small business owners in business, the restaurants, the hotels and bed and breakfasts is just not worth it. Somebody somewhere is making decisions for themselves and those outcomes are going to effect everyone in this region as well as those who travel to it from other places.

WATERVILLE – State foresters are being encouraged to ensure the environmental preservation of a patch of public land where natural gas well drilling is proposed.

Mark Murawski, county transportation planner, said Tuesday to the Pine Creek Rail Trail Advisory Committee that wells are a possibility around the southern end of Ramsey Road, Cummings Township.

A company he identified as PGE has expressed investigative in

tentions, although no representatives were at the meeting held at the Waterville fire hall.

Officials with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will decide if wells will be built at the site located just east of Waterville and known as the Ramsey Vista.

“The DCNR has jurisdiction where that site is at,” said Toner Hollick, county planning commission member and the township’s representative to the trail advisory committee.

Murawski said the county’s involvement is limited to zoning permit review, which it hasn’t approved yet.

“The county doesn’t have any jurisdiction on state forest land, other than issuing a zoning permit,” he said. “We’re reviewing it (the permit) now.”

Jerry Walls, Pennsylvania Wilds planning consultant, wants to ensure eyesores aren’t erected in the picturesque Pine Creek Valley, which has been nationally recognized as one of the best places to take a bicycle ride.

Drilling rigs and pipelines are possible if gas wells are approved.

Walls understands gas well exploration may progress, but he successfully encouraged the trail advisory committee to send correspondence to the DCNR, encouraging reasonable protection of the natural scenery.

The number of wells is unknown, as Tiadaghton state Forester Jeff Prowant said anywhere from one to 14 could be created.

The company may lose interest if ample gas isn’t present, according to Rebecca A. Burke, chairwoman of the county commissioners.

“If they do it on a couple wells and they’re not productive, they might move on,” she said.